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Petit Verdot

You may have never seen a bottle labelled Petit Verdot, but you may have enjoyed a small amount in a blend. Seeking solo varietal, Petit Verdot is a challenge, and when I have seen them, they are most likely part of a tasting kit. Petit Verdot is the fifth permitted grape varietal in the red wines from Bordeaux, France, it usually makes up a very small percentage of the blend. Petit Verdot is inky dark, with heavy tannic extraction from the skins, so a little goes a long way to coloring the blend.

Even in the new world, this grape is used most commonly as part of a blend, but the pioneering spirit has allowed a few producers to vinify the grape into a stand alone wine. I have a favorite producer (anyone who has worked with me over the past decade can name them, I will share it with subscribers) in Lodi, California who makes an amazing wine blended of Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. It has huge body and flavor, bright jammy fruit balanced with thick velvety texture, and plenty of tannin. When you do find Petit Verdot 100% on it's own, it is enormous. Hugely full bodied, tannic and dry. I have seen it from Washington, California, and Australia, but again in small quantities, as most of the yield is used for blends.

I mentioned before tasting kits. These are really cool. The choice of grapes in blending is not arbitrary. The grapes used to make blended wines in Bordeaux, France, are a result of centuries of trial and error, and the grapes are used all over the world in blends. Many producers, especially in California will make 5 packs of solo varietal wines as a kit, often in 375ml bottles. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.

These are the 5 most common grapes in a Bordeaux red, and these kits allow you to taste each grape independently, to wrap your mind around it's unique role in the finished blend. I love teaching this type of class, because rarely do you find any wine really in a 100% varietal composition, and this exercise really allows us to see the effects on each of the base components from geography, soil, and climate. Let's set up a class and try it.

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